From John Cena’s ‘incredible’ injury return to Edge feeling like he ‘could have beat King Kong’ after nine years away from wrestling

The legendary Royal Rumble match attracts fans from all over who tune in to see which surprise entrants will appear at WWE’s linchpin event.

In recent years, we’ve seen wrestling icons return for one last dance, superstars’ unexpected injury returns and even Johnny Knoxville.

John Cena was involved in one of the most dramatic Royal Rumble returns

John Cena was involved in one of the most dramatic Royal Rumble returns

For some, the modified Battle Royale retains its importance for signalling the first stop on the road to WrestleMania.

But for many others the chaotic, relentless nature of the 30-man over-the-top rope extravaganza is excitement enough in itself.

As such, the Rumble is littered with memorable moments that give fans plenty to celebrate on a night the best wrestling has to offer can feature in the same ring all at once.

With that mind, what are some of the greatest Royal Rumble returns in recent history? talkSPORT.com takes a deeper look.

John Cena – 2008

The Doctor of Thuganomics has been rumoured to make his return from acting at this year’s Rumble but he’ll be hard pushed making it bigger than his last one.

Cena was ruled out of action for up to a year when he tore his pectoral muscle clean off the bone in October 2007.

Yet incredibly he returned at the end of January as the No. 30 entrant in the Royal Rumble to eliminate Triple H and win the whole thing.

The Game told WWE’s the Bump last year: “I knew if we play it right? They (the fans) won’t sit down, like if we can, if we can deliver on it in this way? It will just be incredible.”

Cena returned dramatically ahead of schedule from a torn pectoral injury

WWE

Cena returned dramatically ahead of schedule from a torn pectoral injury

Edge – 2020

The Rated R-Superstar made a seemingly impossible return to the ring in Texas after almost nine years away from wrestling and triple-fusion neck surgery.

Edge came in at No. 28 and lasted almost a whopping 24 minutes on his return and eliminated three other competitors before exiting the match.

“Once the music hit, and that reaction … I mean, I truly feel like I could have beat King Kong’s a**,” Edge told ESPN.

“It was all surreal, kind of like a dream sequence, but everything’s so focused and hyperfocused that I can’t really explain it.

“But I think when you look at the video of me walking out, I think you see it in my eyes.”

Edge would then win the Rumble the following year, coming in first to last the whole match and claim glory.

Edge won the Royal Rumble 10 years to the day after his first one

WWE

Edge won the Royal Rumble 10 years to the day after his first one

AJ Styles – 2016

The Phenomenal One seemed destined to go his entire career without ending up in WWE after making his name in rival promotions TNA and NJPW.

But after leaving Japan in January 2016, Vince McMahon swooped to sign Styles as a free agent who made his debut as No. 3 entry in the Rumble weeks later.

Styles was given a standing ovation from fans after showing up to face off against Roman Reigns to the point that McMahon thought it was a fluke.

The man himself explained on Twitch: “The reaction that I got at the Royal Rumble 2016 was awesome, it was amazing, but Vince didn’t really believe that – [he thought] that it was a fluke, basically.

“That’s what he thought it was. I wasn’t even going to be on RAW the next day, but they convinced him otherwise.”

Triple H – 2002

The King of Kings was no stranger to thunderous reactions after returning at the Rumble having experienced his own at the 15th annual event.

Triple H returned from his torn quad in 2002 and went on to win the Rumble after a 23 minute stint in the ring in which he eliminated four other competitors.

He told WWE’s The Bump: “It was great. You know, it’s hard to put into words the journey that I was on at this point in time because there was a high probability that I would never wrestle again with the injury that I had, and they kind of let me know that.

“It was a massive moment but really sort of that moment of the Rumble all the way through to WrestleMania was kind of like the validation of, ‘Yes, I returned, but can I still do this, and can I do it where I was doing it before?’

“So, that aspect of it, these moments being in the ring, they’re just so much meaning there, just not only from a performer’s standpoint, just from an athlete’s standpoint of the validation of being able to do this still.”

Triple H won the 2002 Royal Rumble after returning from a quad injury

WWE

Triple H won the 2002 Royal Rumble after returning from a quad injury

Rey Mysterio – 2018

The masked high-flyer was involved in one of the Rumble’s greatest ever appearances when he lasted over an hour to win the 2006 edition.

That was during Mysterio’s first run with WWE which lasted 13 years before he looked set to walk away from the company for good in 2015.

But the two-time world champion was given a hero’s reception when he made his return in the Rumble three years later.

He told the Mirror: “It’s indescribable… It was one of those moments that you had to be there, to really live it.

“You know, I don’t think I’ve ever felt that type of reaction, in a massive fanbase, like it was in Philly.

“Man, it was just – unforgettable. It was just one of those feelings that you’re going to cherish and it will be with me for the rest of my life.”

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